Pushing the Limits


This is a guest post by Jaspreet Singh Sahni, a journalist from India. You can enjoy his writing at his blog, Star of the Day.

His movement may be restricted but his determination knows no limitation and that eggs him on to perform like a man on a mission, at times outshining his able-bodied counterparts, on the badminton court.

Tarun Dhillon is just 12 and he is visibly different from others, not because of his disability but his ability to overcome it. He was 8 when he met an unfortunate accident that seriously injured his right knee. His movement got restricted and ultimately the knee had to be operated upon, twice.  Though the first surgery was unsuccessful, the second seemingly went well. “The second surgery was slightly more successful as I regained movement, but my knee was still jammed,” Tarun clarifies.

It was a year later, at 9, when he turned to badminton. “I picked up the racquet because it exercises every part of your body. My coach Rajiv Mehra has helped me a lot. Although my movement is comparatively slower than the rest on court, I just love the game,” Tarun said.  His tenacity echoes in his statement: “I constantly like to challenge myself against those with no disability. It should never stop somebody from doing what they love.”

His resolve is there for everybody to see in his achievements as he began making his mark at the school and junior levels. At 11, Tarun was crowned India’s number one shuttler in the physically challenged category for juniors. Along the way, he became a gold medalist in the national championships in singles, doubles and mixed doubles events.

With success touching his feet, he landed into the hands of Prakash Padukone (former Indian international) at his academy to train for Asia cup for the disabled last December. While he finished third in the doubles event, he lost to a 35-year-old Malaysian veteran in the singles.

“When I first saw Tarun, I realised that he wanted to prove to the world that his disability is only physical. I have been coaching him since he picked up the sport. I have been training him mainly on his movements but his courage, skill and determination are extraordinary to say the least,” says his coach.

Via Star of the Day

Finding a Meaningful Life in Refugee Camps


Born in Sri Lanka, V. Thenmozhi saw her world being shattered when she had, with her family, to flee the civil war on her island. They lost everything and on rickety boat they crossed the Palk Strait to reach Chennai, the capital of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. There, she became a refugee in one of the numerous camps set up for fleeing Tamils by NGOs, one of them being the OfERR.

Then 18, she first thought about going back to school but soon the family having no income she decided to work for the OfERR where she felt at home among other Tamil refugee activists. Thenmozhi was young and people were doubtful she could do the job. How was she going to counsel men 4 times her age? How was she supposed to provide advice to a mother who had lost her children while fleeing?

Thenmozhi was persistent. She first finished her training as a counselor, learning precious lessons, and then started visiting the 117 refugee camps in Tamil Nadu. It was, and still is, a tough job because depressed or angry refugees would not easily tell their story, a crucial part of the healing process. Thenmozhi took the time to know them, get their trust and slowly they opened up, releasing memories trapped in their mind.

After that, she helped them get more confident, taught them to think positively so they could pick themselves up, start an activity and earn some much needed money. She particularly empowered women, pushing them to start small businesses which was against the traditional view. Thenmozhi, now 38, is teaching the next generation of counselors who step-by-step will take over. She feels a great sense of accomplishment even though it hasn’t been easy to take her fellow refugees from being nobodies to reclaiming their life.

Empowerment is everywhere. From the refugee camps to your own home, anyone can make a difference in someone else’s life. If you do it you will find meaning. Via oneworld.net

This week is World Refugee Week and you can donate to the UNHCR. Even a small token will be helpful! Added to thousands of other donations it will show how a group can be powerful. Thank you.

From The Bottom to The Top


If you live in a poor region rich in minerals you will end up for sure scraping at the bottom of pits. And if you are a child doesn’t matter.

Manan Ansari is a 14-year old boy from Dhaurkola, a village from the mineral-rich state of Jharkhand in Eastern India. Born in a poor family with six siblings, Manan instead of going to school went to work along with his family in one of the illegal and unorganised mines of mica dug by the villagers. It was hard. ”My work required me to collect mica pieces from ten in the morning to six in the evening. Sometimes, I couldn’t get any for earning,” remembers Manan. ”We had to dig up pits and sometimes, those pieces used to pierce into open wounds which would later result in infections.”

Fortunately for Manan and his siblings, the BBA (Save Childhood Campaign), came to the rescue. The BBA is an Indian NGO founded by Kailash Satyarthi, a famous human rights activist, which frees child slaves and put them back in the educational system. When Manan was finally able to attend school, he excelled so much that he topped his high school class exams.

Now Manan himself helps fight child labor by giving speeches. This week, for example, he will head to Geneva where he will be able to tell firsthand about the situation of millions of children. He has been invited by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to talk about child labor to leaders from across the world. From the mica pits of Dhaurkola to the stage of Geneva it’s a long road that has been traveled by Manan Ansari. I bet he is far from finished. Via deccanherald.com

To learn more:


Kailash Satyarthi’s website

Women Find Their Collective Power


Subhadra Khaperde is an activist from the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India. She helps people solve problems. In villages from the Khargone district where she is based, Subhadra noticed than more and more women were complaining about their health and about their husbands behavior. These families belonged to the Bhil tribe, one of the most ancient in India, but where alcohol is regarded as a “holy spirit”. Alcoholism among men was rampant, especially since they could buy it at illegal liquor stores run by the local mafia. Drinking sprees lead to sexual abuse and also husbands not being able to work for days. This situation gave another burden to the women who had to feed their families.

Subhadra, helped by health doctors collected data, discovering that most women suffered from reproductive health problems. Taking action, she gathered hundreds of women to an informal meeting in the village of Akya. There she painstakingly explained that medication would not solve their problems. Social customs had to change. Women answered that they were powerless in front of this kind of change. Guided by Subhadra, their own analysis concluded that the men had to be involved which was not possible because of the abundance of alcohol.

Subhadra passed their conclusions to male activists who conducted workshops exclusively with the men. They admitted that alcohol was the main problem. Before the illicit liquor stores appeared and the lack of reaction from the authorities, they had to brew their own alcohol using the flowers of the mahua tree. It was a time-consuming task and could be undertaken only occasionally. To reduce the consomption of alcohol the solution was obvious.

On a sunny afternoon, hundreds of men and women gathered in front of the illegal liquor shop of Okhla. They confiscated the alcohol and closed the shop. Similar actions were taken in various villages. The local mafia boss was not amused. Hearing that another operation would take place in Pandutalav, he came down with his henchmen, ready to crackdown on villagers. When he saw thousands of determined men and women, he fled. The illegal liquor store was shut down and the keys were handed to the police.

There is always an answer to a problem. Finding it always starts with trusting your ability to do so. Subhadra Khaperde empowered the women in her community, giving them the confidence to stand up and take action. Via oneworld.net

A blog about the Bhil tribes

Where You Come From Doesn’t Matter


Priti, a young woman from India ranked 92th in a national exam. Well that’s about it. It wouldn’t even  make  the news in some parts of the world but in India, it is big news. First, this exam is the Union Public Service Commission examination, a very difficult test with a lot of hopefuls and very few chosen to join what is called the elite IAS (Indian Administrative Service.)

Second, Priti is from a small village,  near the unfortunate city of Bhopal, where her father is a daily wage labourer. But Priti, even though the odds of succeeding where stacked against her, soldiered on, tutoring kids to earn money for school and having relatives chip in.  You can guess now that the whole village of Sehore is proud of her. She is also a role model for other girls. See, everything is about perspective. Via hindustantimes.com and ndtv.com

I Started Young to Help Others and you Can Do it Too


American Tara Suri is young but she already has accomplished a lot. She started at age 13 when on a trip to India she couldn’t bear to see orphans abandoned in the streets. She raised money to help them and since then she has won numerous grants and sponsorships to finance her ideas on how the world should be. She now encourages other teens to take action through her umbrella non-profit ‘Turn Your world Around‘.

Tara’s facebook page.

Amit Beura (Indian Highschool Student)


He was passing by the river Paika in the state of Orissa when he heard 5 girls screaming for help. He didn’t hesitate and dived to save them from drowning. Via odishatoday.com

Congress Kanwar (Indian Schoolgirl)

by on December 11, 2008
in Education, India, Teens


At 10, she wanted to study. Her parents wanted to marry her. When the prospective groom showed up, she threatened to call the police, a very bold move in Indian culture. Via OneWorld